Saina mentally tough, can win All-England, says Vimal

Saina mentally tough, can win All-England, says Vimal

Saina Nehwal with the gold medal after winning the Indonesian Masters on Sunday. AP/ PTI

Saina Nehwal is mentally the toughest shuttler in the country and the ability to overcome injuries is to key to her longevity, believes former coach Vimal Kumar.

Saina, who had suffered a shin injury late last year, won the Indonesia Masters on Sunday after the withdrawal of Carolina Marin from the summit clash due to a knee injury.

"Saina is definitely mentally the toughest, even I will give her edge over the men's players, she is much tougher than all of them," Vimal, who had coached Saina from 2014 to 2017, told PTI on Tuesday.

"She doesn't think too much once she is on court, no matter if she has some pain, she will go all out and make it difficult for her opponents," said the former India coach, under whom Saina attained the World No 1 ranking in 2015.

With Marin suffering an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, and world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying also recuperating from a wrist injury, Vimal feels the Indian duo of Saina and P V Sindhu will have a great chance to end India's wait for an All England title.

"It (Indonesia win) will give Saina a lot of confidence and can help her in the All England Championship, she can target that," he said.

"Carolina also might need 5-6 months to recover if the injury is serious, so the All England will be wide open. Carolina and Tai Tzu Ying were favourites. So now Saina and Sindhu will have big chance to win the title."

Saina, who will turn 29 in March, is currently the oldest player in the top ten and Vimal said it is important for the Indian to train smart to stay at the top of her game.

"She has had her share of injuries. I was there with her at the Olympics, she was preparing well and suddenly it came up. But subsequently, the way she came back, I have to give her credit.

"Now it is a question of training smart. She has a couple of years at the top and with the Olympics coming up, she would want to do well... I don't want to go that far now but she can immediately think of doing well at the All England."